A Personal Perspective: The Need for Ethical Norms

By: Paul G. Ericson


The word “ethics” turns off many and confuses more. Yet the notions of shared values and an

agreed-on process for dealing with adversity and change-what many people mean when they talk about corporate culture-seem to be at the heart of the ethical issue. People who are in touch with their own core beliefs and the beliefs of others and are sustained by them can be more comfortable living on the cutting edge. At times, taking a tough line or a decisive stand in a muddle of ambiguity is the only ethical thing to do. If a manager is indecisive and, spends time trying to figure out the “good” thing to do, the enterprise may be lost. 1

We take great pride in our Agency’s specialness, exhibiting an individual and corporate stance that speaks to the uniquely demanding nature of our business and our Jong tradition of “can do.” This pride is well placed. America’s expectations for the Agency and its people are extraordinarily high, and our record over the past four decades attests, in the main, to the fact that these expectations have been met, if not exceeded.

This pride has its dark side, which has its costs. One of the foremost has been our seemingly sustained reluctance to formalize the ethical minimums which should goyern our business and to pass these findings on to those who join the Agency.

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